Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Are the 3 Types of Fats in Food

Today I'd like to talk about fats in the foods that we eat. It's important that if you want to eat healthy and maintain a good weight that you know about fat in your diet. Here is a quick explanation of the fats in our food and how they affect our overall health. 


What is Saturated fat?

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, which is why they're known as "solid fat". Saturated fats are mostly in animal foods such as cheese, milk, and red meat. When it comes to poultry and fish they have less saturated fat than red meat. This is why it's a great idea to substitute turkey ground for hamburger meat. Saturated fat is also in a variety of oils like tropical, coconut, palm & cocoa butter. Usually you'll find tropical oils in many snacks and in nondairy foods, such as coffee creamers. There is a high content of saturated fat in foods made with butter, margarine or shortening such as cakes, cookies, and other deserts. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and can put your health in a higher risk category. A healthy diet should have ideally less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat. This may seem difficult to do but once you get really good at reading labels, learning to substitute when cooking and focusing on what you're eating, it will become very easy.

What is Trans fat?

Trans fat is fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life of fat and makes it even harder at room temperature simply put hydrogenation preserves fat. When fat is harder it makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat can definitely raise your cholesterol, so eat as little trans fat as possible. You'll find trans fat in processed foods, snack foods like chips and crackers, cookies, some margarine and salad dressings, and foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated oils. So, you must read the nutritional labels and learn to cook healthier meals.

What is Unsaturated fat?

Unsaturated fat is in liquid form at room temperature. You will find unsaturated fat mostly in oils derived from plants. It can help improve your cholesterol level if you eat unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat. You should eat mostly unsaturated fats whether their monounsaturated or polyunsaturated types. Monounsaturated fats help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) "bad"cholesterol, increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) "good" cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Foods rich in monounsaturated fat include canola and olive oils, almonds, and avocados just to name a few. Polyunsaturated fats also help improve your cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. These fats are mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils.

The most heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats are the Omega-3s, which are found in high content in fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Plant sources include flax seeds and walnuts. Omega-3s are the super heroes of the fat world because, in addition to their positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, they can also help reduce inflammation, the risk of blood clots, and decrease triglycerides which are fats that circulate in your bloodstream. A healthy diet should include 8 ounces or more of Salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout & mackerel per week, which contain the wonderful Omega 3 fatty acids. Also, it's important to note that Omega-6 fatty acids are found mostly in liquid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.

So in conclusion, it's important to read the nutritional label on all the foods that you buy and learn the art of substitution when cooking. These two points are pertinent to eating a healthy diet and controlling the fat that goes into your body. Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat on nutritional fact labels. Food labels are not required to list monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat so, keep this in mind when reading nutritional fact labels. Now that you're armed with a little information about fats, you can make informed decisions on your choices when at the grocery store and preparing your meals!

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